Three Poems from The Fabric of the Universe by Andrée Chedid

Transference, Dec 2018

Translated from French by Kathryn Kimball: Still Here Passing Through Growing Old VI Dying IV

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Three Poems from The Fabric of the Universe by Andrée Chedid

Thr ee Poems from Th e Fabric of the Universe by Andr?e Chedid Kathryn L. Kimball 0 0 Drew University Follow this and additional works at: Part of the French and Francophone Language and Literature Commons, Language Interpretation and Translation Commons, and the Poetry Commons - Article 14 Kathryn Kimball Three Poems from The Fabric of the Universe Andr?e Chedid L??toffe de l?univers Still Here Passing Through De passage je suis encore l? Still here passing through still traveling the road of life clearing pathways breaching walls brief and fleet this one-way trip hoping fate will find me soon no ?see you later.? _____________________________________ And if I were a long-distance runner, would I rest at the end of my race, would I not increase my effort? Diogenes Running, running everywhere, never stopping. Take off running, increase the incline, never give up. The key word is effort. More and more effort is required to get to the end of a race or to the end of anything. Life is made up of constant effort. I agree with the old cynic?and yet leisure, even laziness, seem to me as important as effort, linked as words are in necessary opposition. In short, I prefer that lounging Diogenes who said to Alexander: ?Move out of my sun.? 2018 Kathryn Kimball Growing Old VI This disease so hard to face this losing touch with the universe this clash with death this too short life this home boarded up now soon to be nowhere These broken ties with the world this confrontation with death this far too brief a time these memories soon forgotten this total absurdity this opening into infinity this break with my own mind the final period of this sentence never wished for. Andr?e Chedid Vieillir VI _____________________________________ Do not go gentle into that good night Old age should burn and rave at close of day Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas It?s true that there is plenty to rage about. But what good would that do? And since the poet says the night is ?good,? I prefer, instead of raging, to go there as ?gently? as I can. November 2005 Dying IV I've had enough of dying day after day of letting time slip through my fingers I?ve had enough of dwindling day after day of losing my tomorrows to oblivion The sap of memory no longer flows Silence settles all around Our clasped hands lie still in the grass My mind has deserted me The day wraps itself up with string swaddling me inside abandons me on the riverbank orphaned Mourir IV I demand redress but why? how? I concede and let vast death take my place forever? _____________________________________ Everything begins with memory and everything ends with it. . . The present is opaque. Paul Ricoeur The opacity of the present is an immense problem. Everything is remembrance; everything is memory recomposing or reviving itself. So nothing is lost? To the flashy showman demonstrating how to develop memory, the Philosopher poses this question: ?How do we learn to forget?? If only Alzheimer's, in splitting open the breastplate of language and abolishing the Newtonian certainties of time, space, matter, and the principle of causality, could teach us something. Why not? And if God had truly willed, as St. Paul declares, that our wisdom be folly and our folly be wisdom. Why not? Andr?e Chedid was born in Cairo in 1920 of Lebanese-Christian ancestry. In 1946, she moved to Paris with her physician husband, eventually becoming a French citizen. During her lifetime, Chedid published over forty volumes of poems, novels, short stories, and plays, which won numerous prizes, including Prix Mallarm? (1976), Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle (1979), and Prix Goncourt de la Po?sie (2002). In 2006, she completed The Fabric of the Universe while suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer?s. As an integral and unique part of many of the poems in this last volume, Chedid included quotations from other writers as well as her own reflections in prose. She died in 2011. To render Chedid?s straightforward diction, I keep the English simple. The lines of this English translation correspond to the lines of the French original, although very occasionally, line order may be switched for comprehension and/or effect. Chedid?s verse runs on an engine of high-octane verbs, with few adjectives and fewer adverbs, and I try to find sharp English equivalents, such as ?dwindling,? ?swaddling,? ?clearing? pathways and ?breaching? walls. Some minor stylistic features of Chedid?s poetry are minimized in this English translation. The capital letters beginning each of Chedid?s lines are generally cut back either to a capital at the start of each stanza or to a change in the thought-stroke within the stanza. I keep to Chedid?s practice of no period until the last line. I agree with Antoine Berman that translators cannot help but destroy the rhythm of the original language, its unique linguistic patternings, its golden expressions, idioms, and associative chains (Berman in Venuti 276?289*). Even though every translation falsifies the original, still one must attempt this ?false fidelity? to connect across languages and cultures. Shakespeare?s Sonnet 138 comes to mind: O, love's best habit is in seeming trust, . . . Therefore I lie with her and she with me, And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be. 63 Indeed, there can only be a seeming trust between two texts. Assuredly, there?s unavoidable lying going on, which actually allows them to co-exist and which permits the glorious privilege of lying side by side?text and translation. Since cloning a twin text is impossible, a text with a remarkable family resemblance is the next best thing. I can only hope that I have found adequate rhythms and expressions in English to accomplish this task, and that, as translator, I have justly rendered Chedid?s translucent poems. ?De passage je suis encore l?,? ?Vieillir VI,? and ?Mourir IV? in L?Etoffe de l?univers ? Flammarion. *Venuti, Lawrence. (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader . 2nd ed., Routledge , 2004 . Chedid , Andr?e. L'?toffe de l'univers. Flammarion , 2010 , pp. 81 , 102 - 03 , 117 , Post-Scriptum, pp. 137 , 142 , 146 .

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